Who’s Shopping Forged Documents to the Washington Press Corps?

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On May 9, Reality Winner, an NSA contract worker, downloaded a file that outlined details of Russian hacking efforts just before the 2016 election. On June 5, the Intercept published her file.

But something interesting happened between May and June: someone used the Winner document as the basis to create a forgery of a different top-secret document that named a specific Trump aide who had colluded with Russia. This forgery was apparently shopped around to journalists, including Rachel Maddow, who described what happened on her show last night.

So…who had access to the Winner file before it was published? Who’s peddling this stuff? Was it from a Trump opponent who meant it to be taken seriously but didn’t quite do the job well enough? Was it from a Trump supporter who hoped someone in the mainstream media would publish it and then look like a fool? Was it from someone in the intelligence community who wanted to sow seeds of doubt in news organizations that receive stolen documents? Good question! As Maddow mentioned, two other news organizations have had to retract stories recently based on problems with “sourcing.” This might be part of a concerted effort to discredit the media looking into the Trump-Russia connection.

I will say one thing, though: Maddow compared this to the fake documents that CBS published about George Bush’s National Guard service. That’s a dead end. We have a pretty good idea of where those came from, and it wasn’t some part of the deep state. It was just an idiot with a grudge against Bush.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

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ONE MORE QUICK THING:

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As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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